6

My family will be travelling to the Rhineland in the summer, and I am just beginning to get to grips with the idea of "Verkehrsverbünde", or transport associations. As far as I understand, these offer advantageous tickets over a fixed geographic area, including "Minigroup" tickets that would be excellent for my family (3 adults + 1 child).

On longer journeys, one can travel over the territory of multiple transport associations in a single journey, even without a change of train. In these situations, the cheapest options appears to be to be the purchase of multiple tickets, one for each association.

For example, on a trip from Koblenz to Cologne, one could buy a day ticket as far as Unkel (Minigruppenkarte, VRM association), and then another from there to Cologne (Tagesticket 5 Personen, VRS assocation).

Is it possible to purchase these tickets at stations outside of their respective territories? I am aware of possibilities for print-at home and mobile tickets etc, but this seems to be a bit of a pain (downloading apps, printing tickets, and so on...)

  • 2
    Quick answer: Normally not. Ocassionally, you may be able to get these at at the ticket offices in train stations. – DCTLib Jul 24 '17 at 8:41
  • "beginning to get to grips with the idea of 'Verkehrsverbünde', or transport associations" - to get a better idea about the scope of the question, may I ask what kind of a transportation system you are familiar with? A country-wide one maybe? – O. R. Mapper Jul 26 '17 at 20:11
  • @o-r-mapper I'm used to the UK system: rail fares are a National System, bus fares are usually set by the company running the service (excl. London) but there are often regional passes as well (for Greater Manchester, so-and-so county, etc.). The German system makes sense to me, it's just the lack of national (or even regional co-ordination) between associations that seems exceedingly counter-intuitive. I understand that long-distance fares aren't subject to the system, but what if one just wants to hop across an association border? – jacoman891 Jul 26 '17 at 20:56
8

No, it is not generally possible to buy ticket from a regional Verkehrsverbund on the territory of another Verkehrsverbund or municipial transportation provider, unless they have special agreements in place, or are in fact organized in a hierarchy.

For example, the VVO, the regional Verkehrsverbund of eastern Saxony, is in a sense the parent of the DVB, the municipial ÖPNV provider of Dresden. You can buy VVO tickets in Dresden although it's - strictly speaking - not their turf.

That said, according to Wikipedia, VRM and VRS seem to share a couple of munipialities, where both ticket systems are valid, so I would expect both tickets to be available at least at these stops. I couldn't find hard evidence for that, and I couldn't find any evidence for a special agreement. The VRS website has a FAQ entry for your question, which only mentions that tickets are available on their own territory.

I've sent your question to the VRM twitter account, but looking at their tweets, I'm not hopeful that I'll get an answer.

  • The overlap only appears to be one-way (VRS tickets valid in a couple of VRM municipalities), and the hard evidence is here My German is hardly fantastic, so I could have misinterpreted but I think that's what it means... – jacoman891 Jul 24 '17 at 9:27
  • Whether the overlap is one-way or two-way doesn't really matter - as there is an overlap, you should be able to get tickets for both VRS and VRM in the overlapping region. If there was no overlap, your plan would (probably) fail, as neither ticket would allow you to travel further than the last stop inside the region (source: seeing people being ordered to leave the train on several occasions, yet in another part of Germany). – Sabine Jul 24 '17 at 10:47
  • @Sabine: "If there was no overlap, your plan would (probably) fail, as neither ticket would allow you to travel further than the last stop inside the region" - to my knowledge, the typical case is indeed that there is one stop that can be reached from both regions. The same idea - that stops can be located on the boundary of a region - is also sometimes applied within the territory of a Verkehrsverbund, by defining certain stops to be right on the boundary of two different tariff zones, and thus reachable with a lower fare from "both sides". – O. R. Mapper Jul 26 '17 at 13:00
6

Congratulation! By digging into the world of public transport associations (Verkehrsverbünde) you have reached the Holy Grail of German ticketing art. I have a degree in transport system planning and am still struggling with this from time to time. (Having said that, Verkehrsbünde are seen as a main step in history of German public transport and make a lot of sense if you don't cross their borders.)

  • Ticket sales policies differ between the associations. Some offer online ticketing.
  • I am aware you wanted offline solutions. Anyway, you may want to consider to download the 'DB Navigator' app, which provides up to date travel information and - for some associations - ticketing options. You wouldn't need to print the ticket purchased through the app, but you need to create a profile on www.bahn.de first.
  • The VRM is a particularly slow Verkehrsverbund and doesn't provide online ticketing options.

So what are we left with?

  • As far as I know, you are not able to buy a Verkehrsverbundticket at a counter or machine outside of the association's territory.
  • You can buy tickets a couple of days in advance though.

That means that in your particular case you could do the following:

  • Before leaving Koblenz for Cologne, get offline VRM tickets for both traveling days.
  • Get the VRS tickets online.
  • Done.

You can save also the headache: The "Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket" is valid in regional trains all over Germany https://www.bahn.de/p/view/angebot/regio/qdl.shtml

  • 3
    "Verkehrsbünde are seen as a main step in history of German public transport" - although, seen merely from a customer point-of-view nowadays, a "Verkehrsverbund" acts pretty much like a single transportation company with more or less exclusive access within its territory whose vehicles and sales offices happen to be branded in a number of different designs. – O. R. Mapper Jul 26 '17 at 20:14
  • The reason this whole question sprung up (and I didn't make this clear) is that I'm not going: it's my family (apart from me). Although my parents own smartphones, and they'll have both Mobile Data and Wi-Fi, they're not 100% comfortable with using new apps, so if there was a way they could sort this out at a machine or counter, it'd be a lot easier and less stressful for them. As it stands, I've learned that both VRS and VRN tickets are available through the DB Navigator App (these being the two associations for which they'll need off-territory tickets), so this should work OK – jacoman891 Jul 26 '17 at 21:01
2

If you travel with Deutsche Bahn, they offer a City mobil ticket:

City mobil is your local public transport ticket that you can easily add to your DB ticket purchase.

You have a choice between:

  • A single ticket that lets you travel from your destination station to your final destination (or vice versa from the place you are staying to the departure station)
  • A day ticket for an unlimited number of trips following the trip with the DB ticket The period of validity differs from place to place (in some cases longer than 24 hours) and is specified on the ticket.

The ticket is only available for a limited number of cities and only for part of the Verkehrsverbund, usually just the fare zone around the train station. (It is similar to the City-Ticket for customers with a BahnCard.)

Booking online, you can select it at the "Tickets & options" step.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.